JFK security guards to TSA: this isn’t working

by Lisa Simeone on August 16, 2012


Security guards at JFK airport in New York have filed a formal complaint with the TSA claiming that they’re undertrained, understaffed, and supplied with faulty equipment. 

The guards work for a private company called Air Serv, which is contracted to monitor the airport grounds and perimeter. The Air Serv employees are supposed to guard the entrances and exits of various terminals and prevent cars from parking in restricted areas.

Airport security at locations other than the passenger checkpoint has long been a concern, and is easily breached.

Before this formal complaint was filed, about 150 Air Serv employees filed a petition with their company detailing the problems and their concerns. The employees said Air Serv ignored them.

This brings up a subject that many TSA opponents often tout as a panacea: private security. The contention is that if airport security were turned over to private companies, operations would be more efficient and abuse of passengers would somehow magically disappear.

This argument has never made sense. Getting groped by a private sector goon is no better than getting groped by a public sector one. The TSA still has oversight of security at those airports, such as SFO (San Francisco), that employ private security. The TSA still calls the shots. There are just as many stories of abuse coming out of those airports as anywhere else. And as we can see from this JFK report, private security firms are just as incompetent as the TSA.

But with private security, the argument goes, you can sue. If a security guard abuses you, you can sue him/her personally as well as the company.

Talk about cold comfort. Lawsuits are expensive, time-draining, and soul-sucking. Most people can’t afford to sue.

Even if they can, how is it a step forward from the abusive situation we have now to tell people, “Oh, don’t worry — we know you still stand a good chance of getting bullied, robbed, or assaulted. But you can always sue!”?

Whoopee! Sign me up for that!

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Medhi)

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